May 28, 2005

Spurlock Honored

I thought this was funny. Morgan Spurlock, creator of “Super Size Me,” was honored by a group in his hometown. However, Washington lobbyists petitioned the local chamber of commerce to reconsider because of the subject of Spurlock’s film.

Spurlock has gotten a copy of the letter and posted it on his blog.

Among the gems:
“… he slants the experiment to yield the results he wants. For example, rather than eating a variety of foods in normal-sized portions, Spurlock chooses to consume oversized sugary drinks, fattening entrees, desserts after most meals and snacks in between.”

Anyone who has seen the film knows that Spurlock only Super-Sized when he was asked to… and every time he was asked to. And anyone who has ever been to a fast food restaurant knows about the suggestive sell. “You want fries with that?”

This letter is amusing, but disingenuous at best. I’ll leave it to you to identify the other misrepresentations and inanities in the letter.

Posted by James at May 28, 2005 11:32 AM
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LOL! In light of "Spurlock's irresponsibility". Yeah. Anyone who has seen the movie will see where the irresponsibility lies. As I recall, he made the choices he did to simulate a typical American's exercise and eating habits. He also undertook the diet because the courts claimed that there was no evidence that the McDonald's food was contributing to health problems. As a scientist, I think his experiment was well designed.

I think lobbyists, as a rule, are required to be disingenuous.

Posted by: briwei at May 28, 2005 4:27 PM

I hesitate to call what Spurlock did an experiment - most credible experiments centered around ingestion / consumption, whether it be food, supplements or medicine, have a control group; I'm happier to call it a "stunt".

It is, however, a convincing stunt. I don't think he blamed McDonald's for his health (been a while since I've seen the movie). I think he set out to demonstrate what shouldn't need to be said, and that is "McDonald's food is crap."

I could rant about the hefty blame to lay on both the corporate and the public sides of this argument for days, but I won't. It's too nice outside.

Bill.

Posted by: Bill at May 28, 2005 6:30 PM

The "stunt" description does fit it better. This letter uses the word "experiment" because if you use the strawman that Spurlock was conducting an experiment, it is much easier to criticise him.

I don't think I ever heard Spurlock claim his movie stunt was scientific. It was entertaining and enlightening. And darn gross. And surprising in places -- his doctors never expected the effects that they saw in him. In fact, at the beginning all they warned him of was elevated cholesterol levels. But it turned out the guy put his liver through the ringer.

It's night here now, so I have the time and inclination to rant where Bill did not. ;-) But i'll try to limit myself a bit, anyhow.

We all have personal responsibility for the things we do. Spurlock evercised his and showed us the results. At least part of the message should be (and hell, it is, isn't it?) "Don't do what I did! It's bad for you!!!"

Fast Food cormprations would like to say he's laying all the blame at their feet. Why? Because there is almost no way for them to agree with him and say: "Yes -- our food is very bad for you. You should do as the nutritionists suggest and eat it no more htan once a month... if that."

If it is only common sense that Spurlock got the results that he did, then their business model is tied to you ignoring your common sense.

Does this mean we need laws against these companies? I'm not sure i'd agree with that. Why not just have more awareness that this stuff is bad for you. Not just the "Well, everybody knows that!" type of awareness. Clearly that isn't holding people back. But Spurlock broke through (a bit) with his movie telling you somethign that you supposedly already know.

When folks saw the movie, how did you feel? I felt.. well, I actually craved a hamburger a little bit. Old habits die hard. But I sure didn't feel like it was smart to go out and eat a couple of Big Macs and a large fries. And it sure makes it easier to say "hell no -- I'm going to eat something else."

As I mentioned before, we as individuals have responsibility for our actions. But corporaitons are run by individuals as well. Don't they have a responsibility for their actions? I think we're so used to the idea of corporations as shared financial risk that we buy in to a shared responsibility risk that is simply not true.

Corporations allow businesses to evade dangerous corporate risk. But are they really intended to allow people to evade responsibility, and is that a healthy thing for any of us or our society?

If I am going to accept and embrace my responsibility, I would like to see others doing the same. I would like to see a corporation realizing that its responsibility is not solely to its shareholders. It is not solely a financial responsibility. Imagine an individual trying to get away with the idea that his personal responsibility only extended ot his employer. Imagien what type of life that person might lead, even if they stayed within the law. This person would not help a child who was in danger unless there was some law indicating that he must do it for fear of punishment by the government.

Is that the type of entity we have created? These behemoths which completely lack any capacity for social responsibility unless they compromise their financial responsibility toward their shareholders?

Wow - this is getting long a dwandering far afield.

Let me try to wrap it up. I think some businesses are going to do whatever they can to point to personal responsibility as their watchword, while somehow evading any social responsibility whatsoever. And even if we pile law upon law, we're just constructing a mess. None of these corporations should have a word of their press releases believed unless they can be judged as acting with social responsibility. That doesn't mean simply channeling money to a charity. They ought to be aware of the consequences of their business and show signs of considering how they can mitigate social impact.

The problem is, of course, that their main objective is to stay in business. I didn't say I had the solution to this problem, but maybe as a corporation gets bigger, and it has more trouble exhibiting social responsibility, maybe that corporation is at the end of its life cycle.

Maybe a model that includes small, local businesses cropping up to fill the void of crumbling corporations yields more social consciousness. I don't know. Maybe.

So, more power to Spurlock, not for avoiding personal responsibility, buy highlighting it. And, perhaps, waking feelings of responsibility among anyone who still has a soul up in the corporate offices of fast food companies.

Posted by: James at May 28, 2005 10:45 PM

Did that guy even see the movie? The reason he limited excersize is because the average american doesn't excersize much. He did have a variety of the foods offered, in fact his "rules" said he had to have everything at least once. I don't believe the average american even goes to McDonald's to eat healthy anyhow, if they did want healthy food, they would make a salad at home. As far as the movie not having an objective representation of facts, by definition objective means Uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices...facts can't even be objective...THEY'RE FACTS NOT OPINIONS! If anyone would like to let Marshall Manson what they think about crazy rant, his email is mmanson@cfif.org What a nut!!

Posted by: Jenny at June 1, 2005 1:07 PM

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